The word barbecue means different things to different people, depending on where you live. On the East and West of the United States and in the Frost Belt and Canada, it describes any sort of live-fire cooking outdoors. In Texas, the South, and parts of the Midwest, it refers to a specific kind of meat that’s slow cooked and heavily smoked, usually via the indirect method. Thus, to a North Carolinian, barbecue means pulled pork; to a Texan, beef brisket. Elsewhere, barbecue may refer to a piece of cooking equipment (the barbecue grill), a social gathering (for example, a church barbecue), or simply a meal outdoors.
Being an ecumenical sort of guy, I use the word in all these senses in this book. But here are the precise technical terms for the various types of live-fire cooking.
Grilling: Cooking food directly over glowing coals or a fire. In general, grilling involves small or thin pieces of meat (like steaks, chicken breasts, and fish fillets) cooked quickly and directly over a hot fire. When I say hot, I mean it: Most grilling is done at 450F to 650F.
Direct Grilling: Another name for the process just described.
Modified Direct Grilling: A variation of direct grilling done on a grill with a very deep firebox so that the grate relatively high above the coals. This enables you to grill large cuts of meat, like pork shoulders and even whole pigs, without burning them.
Indirect Grilling: A hybrid process that bridges the techniques of grilling and barbecuing. In indirect grilling, the grill is set up in such a way that the fire is on one side or opposite sides of the grill and the food is cooked away from it, over the unlit portion. The virtue of this method is that it turns your grill into a sort of outdoor oven. Indirect grilling enables you to cook through a large piece of meat, like a whole chicken or pork shoulder, without burning the exterior. It also allows you to smoke the food by adding wood chips or chunks to the fire. With indirect grilling, you don’t need to turn the food. Indirect grilling is generally done at a medium temperature, 325F to 350F. It’s always done with the grill covered.
Barbecuing: True barbecue (as practiced in Texas and the American South) is a low-heat, indirect method that uses lots of wood smoke to cook and flavor the food. The traditional cooker is a horizontal barrel smoker, or pit, which has a firebox at one end and a cooking or smoking chamber at the other. The food cooks at a low (225F to 250F) to medium-low (300F) temperature and slowly (as long as 18 hours for brisket), with a generous amount of wood smoke (usually oak or hickory).The resulting food has an intense smoky flavor and is generally tender enough to pull apart with your fingers. A growing number of cooks have recreational-size pits at home, but in this book, I’ll tell you how to barbecue on a gas or charcoal grill.
Smoking: A variation on true barbecue. Smoking can be done in a horizontal barrel smoker or in a vertical water smoker. There are two types of smokers: hot smoking and cold smoking. Hot smoking, really another name for barbecuing, is generally done at 225F to 250F and I have included techniques for it in this book. In cold smoking, the food is located so far away from the fire that it smokes without cooking. It is used to make Scottish- or Norwegian-style salmon and sometimes beef jerky. Its beyond the scope of this book.
Article taken from "How To Grill" By Steven Raichlen
Courtesy of: texasirons.com